In addition to newspapers and magazines, inside the shop you’ll find dvds, gadgets, history books and local recipe books, as well as guide books for the local area. Blonde Agnese is kind and helpful in providing useful information.
Despite the punkishly aggressive exterior, the owners of Lolly are courteous and affable. Biscuits and little jars of Nutella are proffered when you order coffee at the bar, while aperitif time is accompanied by pieces of focaccia, salame and other nibbles. The genuineness more than makes up for the absence of a real and structured “happy hour”, which isn’t a local tradition.
If you want to come home with fruit and vegetables which have been grown and only picked when ripe, with that “real” flavour, you must shop at Cascina Gandolfi, on the Doppi road which leaves the state road from Castell’Arquato on the way to Sant’Antonio. At the farm’s shop you‘ll find large containers of pumpkins in autumn, or melons and watermelons in summer: The prices are good value and the quality guaranteed. You’ll also find local vegetable varieties, which have been reintroduced in an effort to rediscover ancient tastes and flavours. Don’t miss out on the purple potatoes, ancient fruit of a generous earth.
This Vineyard, which can be glimpsed at in the valley under the Cinghialina, produces local wines, both red and white, still and sparkling, but more importantly it can boast many years’ experience. The owner has a surprising knowledge of the local area, and will be happy to show you around his cellars, explaining the various production steps and narrating the vineyard’s history. During the war my uncle, a doctor with the Partisans in the hillsides, hid from the enemy in a small space under the cellars, protected from enemy requisitioning by overhanging strands of seasoning salami.
A real “trattoria” in appearance and for the menu it offers, naturally reflecting local cuisine, but with innovative variations and combinations, as well as an unusually refined presentation of its dishes, for the context. In winter the local older men sit at the tables by the front door and play cards with gusto, while in summer the action moves to the outside, by the pergola under which one dutifully eats chisolini with cold cuts.
Vineyard and b. and b., offering local specialities with courtesy and enthusiasm. The novelty here is hemp, grown locally and promoted by an association based in Castell’Arquato, on the road to Rocca Viscontea. Lasagne, bortellina, a delicious local pancake, and “hemped” potatoes are among the dishes which include the very tasty and in this case innocent ingredient.